Sunday, March 24, 2013

Some More to Share...

After our time with Torrey, with special thanks to Katrina, we ventured to  Collier-Seminole State Park, Marco Island, and a visit to Ten Thousands Islands National Wildlife Refuge.  

While camping we finally decided to put up our awning.  Yeah, we made it both up and down! Another minor success on the learning curve with the van.

We enjoyed some of the wildlife in the Collier-Seminole State Park on our first day hike.

Gulf Fritillary 
Eastern Ribbonsnake

Resurection Fern - HAPPY EASTER!

Royal Palm from below.  Special species growing in this area.
Red-shouldered Hawk

The area near Naples, Florida is also the access point to Marco Island where we enjoyed a beautiful  walk on Tigertail Beach and another chance to see several Burrowing Owls.

The next day, we visited the Ten Thousand Island NWR and were able to take some bird pictures:

The terrain

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Glossy Ibis

Tri-colored Heron

Blue- Winged Teal

The camping days were relaxing, but we were looking forward to our next stop. We had a planned visit with Latona's oldest stepdaughter, her husband, and granddaughter, husband and great granddaughter.  Four generations together for a long weekend!  We enjoyed meals, music and much sharing over our time together.  The only thing missing was Linden, Jr.!

We thank them all for a wonderful visit.  Their hospitality is always overwhelming and we look forward to our next stop together whether in Florida or Maine.

One reflection to share is my concern that ever since beginning our visit to the Keys, it seems we have not been seeing the numbers of birds we have seen in the past.  Where are they?

One Roseate Spoonbill at Big Pine Key Fishing Lodge

Tri-colored Heron and reflection

(We have noticed more Sandhill Crane pairs, more Turkey Vultures and plenty of Ospreys but many of the small peeps seem gone from where we had been used to seeing them.  We are reporting this as a matter of sharing very informal observations along our travel route.)
Well, I will sign-off for now.  We have had a great network here so posting has been easier.

We are grateful for the moments of serendipity when we have people come up to us in the van and want a tour.  We have had so much encouragement about our new house while continuing our transition from Chemo Pond to the open road.  We want to grasp the concept of going with a Free Spirit and living in the moment in reality.  We send our love and best wishes to all our family and friends.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Catching up with Torrey

One of the hardest things about months and months of travel is not being able to see our children, grandchildren and friends face to face for long stretches of time.  So when Katrina (Tone's daughter) called to say that she would like to send Torrey (our oldest granddaughter) to Tampa for a visit with us, we were thrilled.  Our vacation time was up in the Keys so after our departure from Big Pine Key Fishing Lodge, we planned a visit with Pat and Jean (friends who live near Tampa) for a few days to scope out the hotel and airport location.

Katrina is an amazing planner and could have been a travel agent, professionally.  She booked us right beside Busch Gardens in a lovely La Quinta motel (translated means the fifth).  A big worry for us was  what a fourteen-year old would enjoy with a couple of "older" folks like us for 5-6 days!  Not to worry.  Torrey always has ideas and plans!

Our hotel

Our room window right beside the pool

After Torrey arrived, we asked her what she wanted to do on her vacation.  She had lots of ideas and wanted to see Busch Gardens, shop at mall in a big city, and visit the historic section of Tampa called Ybor City.  She had already been on the Internet and researched the area.  In addition, a friend of hers would join us on Friday for the long weekend and would add another level of fun for her on her visit.

Tone and I had visited Busch Gardens years ago but really looked forward to another visit.  We took the train around the "Serengeti" while the "kids" ventured off on their on.  It was wonderful to have our cell phones and could stay in touch.  That made us feel better knowing the responsibility we carried.

(Lots could be said about this kind of setting for some of the animals, but needless to say there are things to enjoy as well.)

Latona and I always are on a steep learning curve it seems.  This makes our life full of adventure, excitement and sometimes stress.  Watching teenagers get ready to visit the city was an adventure in itself.  When we went  to Ybor City* we walked with them from only 6-8 feet behind like watchdogs.
(*Check it out on Wikipedia) 

Fun to pose with woman who came from Cuba and has this...
beautiful cigar shop where Torrey bought some gifts for her father.

The girls buying bracelets from a disabled man on the street.

Mural of historical images

Some of the wave of new life near 7th Avenue

As you can see, we had six days of fun with Torrey, while trying to be a responsible Meme and Nanny.  I am excited to share these good times.  We love ALL our grandchildren, miss them and can't wait to spend time together in the weeks ahead.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Two new posts will show up today since the last one I wrote a while ago was waiting in the "draft" status. OOPS!

After Nick and Harriet left, we moved from our rustic site and planned for our last ten days at BPKFL to be in "electric".  We wanted to learn more about our new home while we were with friends to help us.

View from our site in Electric

So on March 1, we went into site #98 on the electric side of the Fishing Lodge and we learned a lot in a few days.  Our friend Wayne was with us as we hooked up the water, and turned on the hot water heater.  Then we plugged in the 30 amp wire and waited to see what other bells and whistles would work.  We were excited to see the microwave lights go on ( and realized we could have a pizza for dinner or popcorn). Next, we tried the furnace and added some heat ( and cooling) since there is a central air system in the van, and finally we attached the cable for TV and turned on the Sony flatscreen and wow! for the first time in our life we had cable.  It was really a treat to watch a movie.

I want to introduce you to Joan, the creator of BPKFL.  She is not interested in accolades and shies away from complements, but anyone in the campground will tell you that this special community results from her energy and vision, as well as the participation of all the people there.

Some one described the place as the "fountain of youth", and surely there is something to that description.  Most of the winter campers are between 50 and 90 and are caring, playful, active, busy, fish-eating and sunshine-loving people.  During these final days, we celebrated The Big "O" Party for people celebrating another decade of wedding anniversaries.  It was surprising to see how many couples had celebrated 50 and, some, 60 years together, both still healthy and active.  It was wonderful to be part of this ceremony, and the celebration of commitment, longevity and friendship.  Joan and friends created the skits for the program.

We had some other great events during the last week or so there, like the luncheon to celebrate our leader Lois and all the members of the water aerobics classes, and the sour-dough waffle brunch to celebrate Joe and Trudy's birthdays (about 60 people attended). The Road Kill Party (dinner, karaoke and dancing) for the whole campground was held our last Saturday night in camp.  Joan and friends cooked all the food and served it.

So...when March 10 came around it was a sad day when we had to drive across the Seven Mile Bridge and leave BPKFL.  We send a special thank you to Joan, her daughter Brenda, all the staff in the office and the campground and all our dear friends.  We miss you and hope we can all be together again next winter at BPKFL.

 As we passed along the Overseas Highway heading north, we said goodbye to Bahia Honda State Park and our beach walks.

We realize that these changes are part of life.  Now the seasons are changing everywhere, and the hope for spring is growing.  Four of our five grandchildren have turned another year older, and soon Latona and I will celebrate another year together.  Mom and Chick are experiencing changes too, and soon we will be with them to help negotiate some of life's tough decisions that are part of aging.

We are grateful to our friends Pat and Jean who welcomed us to their home the day we left BPKFL.  After a few wonderful days with them, we will welcome Torrey to sunny Florida for a special time with Meme and Nanny, and after a much anticipated stay with Debbie, Linden, Janet, Ozzie and Haley we will head north to Wildwood and share more life changes with Mom.   

We will keep you posted as we try to grow and celebrate the changes that everyday brings to us. With love and all our best.  

This date, March 12, is the day we started the Appalachian Trail together as the
Daicey Duo.  I celebrate every moment we have walked together!  How blessed I am! 

Wonderful Week

Last Sunday, dear friends Harriet and Nick arrived to stay with us at Big Pine Key Fishing Lodge. We had a lovely pace to our day, starting with coffee, bagels, and much conversation.  Eventually, we would plan our day and head out for adventure.  

One day we visited the Blue Hole, a most visited site on Big Pine Key.  Uniquely, it is the only fresh water on the keys, and is actually fresh on top of salt water on the bottom.  It does contain a pair of alligators, Grebes, Coots and Green Herons and some have spotted Bald Eagles there as well.  There are many interesting websites that will give more information and pictures.

The same day included a visit to the National Key Deer Refuge office in Big Pine Key.  (  Another day was spent at the Turtle Hospital in Marathon.  Thirty individuals are currently housed there either as permanent residents that can never be returned to the wild or those being rehabilitated for release.  (

Still another adventure was a visit to our favorite local park, Bahia Honda State Park.  We checked out the beaches, the nature center, and the view from the Bahia Honda bridge.

But perhaps the most moving experience that we shared was our trip to the Key West Botanical Garden.  We met the founder and wandered the paths and boardwalk looking at the native trees, butterflies and birds.  Then we encountered this tribute to some of the Cuban refugee efforts.  We captured a few photos to share this moving exhibit with you.

Some had car engines or lawnmower power.

Due to overcrowding,  many died from shark attacks.

This is the sail boat model.
Each craft represents families and friends that made a successful crossing from Cuba to Florida. The feet of the hopeful, courageous persons must make it to the shore and then the individual is granted asylum. 

We thank our dear friends for the time shared with us, and the many blessings they gave us during the visit.  In addition, Latona and I send our love to you all from the beach!